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If I had to describe this past year of blogging in one swooping phrase I’d say it was “a learning experience.”

People who have never blogged before may not realize how much of multi-faceted activity it really is. Every individual post incorporates brainstorming with research, writing (obviously), editing, and marketing. Then you have to account for all the behind-the-scenes work of updating layouts, formatting posts, adding pictures, and working on the whole “aesthetic” of the blog.

After one dedicated year I feel as though I am on a new plateau in the blogging world. I slowly, but surely, began to discover my voice, and I am now more focused on the ideas I want to convey to my readers. I have become a better writer; take a look through my archives, read one of my earliest posts and then go to something more recent – you will notice the change.

More importantly, blogging has become a rigorous exercise in self-discovery. It has helped me better define my interests and to integrate those concepts into my life in a practical and effective way. As I mention in my article “Writing As Meditation,” writing is a form of contemplation and critical thinking. It makes our minds stronger and better able to function in the real world.

If you think of your mind as a muscle then writing becomes a “mental gymnasium.” We need creativity to maintain healthy cognition just as much as we need a proper diet and exercise to maintain bodily health. If you find yourself lacking in creative hobbies considering dusting off that old guitar, writing a poem, or going to the park on a nice day to take some pictures. A good hour dedicated to self-expression adds a healthy dose of meaning to our existence and promotes mental health (sometimes even in those who have severe disorders like schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder).

Blogging has helped me cope with some of my own mental handicaps like anxiety and depression. As someone whose mind often wanders and races, blogging became a way for me to put my life into focus and re-assess what makes life worth living; it made me ask, “What do I value in life? What should I strive for?”

Aside from my intellectual improvement, I also have some objective measures to show for my blogging efforts.

Over the past 364 days, I have accumulated over 100,000 visits. That is an average of over 280+ visits a day and an average of 735+ visits per blog post (for those following the math: I have written over 136 posts within the past year).

Assuming only 10% of my readers actually read a full article that is still over 70+ “full readers” per page. That may not sound like a big influence compared to a Paris Hilton or a Michael Jackson but that is 70+ minds I have affected (in some large, small, positive, or negative way) simply from writing my thoughts on some quirky website. For my first year that is a pretty good foundation to build upon. The best part is anyone can do this with a little time and effort.

If you find yourself in a mental rut, unemployed, or just looking for a new hobby – consider starting a blog. It may be just the thing you need to get yourself in a productive and focused mindset. Writing down your ideas in the midst of a brainstorm doesn’t just give you a good reason to sit and unwind your thoughts, it eventually leads toward better incentives and strategies when you stand up to live.

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